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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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OPINION

STEM Classes Will Now Address Climate Change By Agnessa Kasumyan EL VAQUERO STAFF WRITER

W

ith the alarming effects of climate change becoming more and more apparent, instructors are aiming to learn how to better explain the science behind the planet’s long-term changes in weather patterns and the effects these changes will have on both nature and society. This semester, geography professor Darren Leaver is leading a series of STEM Courseware Initiative discussions to describe the causes and effects of climate change to campus instructors, aiming to prepare them for when they discuss the topic with their students. “The real focus is to learn how to teach about climate change,” Leaver said. Last semester, the school led a similar program focused on the conflict between religion

and science. Leaver said it was about getting instructors to feel “confident and comfortable” when addressing subjects like religion, science and climate change, whereas they “shied away” in the past. English instructor Emily Fernandez said she attends the meetings because she is interested in issues surrounding climate change and wants to gain as many resources as she can for students in her English 104 class, which is specifically focused on that topic. Having attended three of the meetings, she has gained a better understanding about the “specifics regarding the science of climate change.” Although natural cycles contribute to the planet’s changing climate patterns, human impacts have done a significant amount of damage. The burning of fossil fuels like coal and gas, for example, has increased the pace of the planet’s

changes in weather and climate. With scientific evidence to back up climate change and the human population’s huge role in this phenomenon, people should no longer deny human influence with a clear conscience. According to a study published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), average global surface temperatures have risen at a rate of 0.15 degree Fahrenheit since 1901, with most of the warming having taken place during the past two decades. Atmospheric greenhouse gases, including water vapor and carbon dioxide, trap “outgoing energy” from the Earth’s surface, absorbing and retaining heat, according to policyalmanac. org. The EPA further states that if greenhouse gases continue to be exploited, the acidity level of the oceans will increase. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that “the

warming of the climate system is according to reporter Paul Thornton. unequivocal,” which is evident due Leaver said that the government to increases in the global average has reacted very slowly to climate air and ocean temperatures, the change, with states that are heavily melting of polar ice caps, and rising invested in the oil industry more sea levels. For example, according likely to be “apprehensive to to the IPCC, global average sea change” and perceive regulations levels increased at a rate of 1.8 as the government intervening in percent every year between 1961 the economy. Luckily, however, and 2003. he said the state Additionally, of California average arctic “Climate change is tends to be more temperatures progressive and have doubled here. It’s going to be conscious of the over the last 100 environment, here for hundreds which influences years. Leaver said other states to if not thousands that, in addition follow in its to rising sea example. of years. There is levels and the “We see it glaciers that all the time that no stopping it, but people are just have “continued to melt [in the] overall resistant what we can do is to change,” he last fifteen 15 years,” climate said. “Other minimize what the people don’t change can be seen in natural want to face the impacts will be.” patterns and fact that maybe migrations the planet’s —Darren Leaver of certain future is going species. For to be a little example, there are certain species different than what we see today. of butterflies that break out of their It’s an uncomfortable thought – cocoons before spring and certain maybe we get more heat waves, animals migrate north earlier than maybe we get more extreme cold usual. spells, maybe we get more floods, Though climate change cannot more droughts, and some of those be stopped, its effects can be in the same location. People are minimized. Leaver says that one uncomfortable with dealing with of the biggest fallacies is that if that reality.” we begin changing our habits to Another issue Leaver says has reduce our carbon footprint, we’re accelerated climate change is the going to stop climate change. fact that formerly poor countries “Climate change is here,” have heavily increased industrial Leaver said. “It’s going to be here production in an attempt to equalize for hundreds if not thousands of their standards of living to that of years. There is no stopping it, Americans; however, doing so has but what we can do is minimize caused an increase in the burning what the impacts will be. Every of fossil fuels and exploitation of little thing we do [not only as resources. individuals, but as a planet] will Americans consume more mean that the worst case scenario resources on a per capita basis is a little bit less.” than most populations.   Though According to the Pew Research Americans comprise about 5 Center, the United States and percent of the world population, China release the largest amount they consume 24 percent of the of greenhouse gases; however, world’s energy, according to a 2008 only 40 percent of Americans and Washington State University report. 30 percent of Chinese believe Though attendees of the STEM that climate poses a threat to their dsicussion on climate change are nations. In the United States, 57 currently only professors Leaver percent of Democrats believe would like to encourage more climate change in induced by students to participate in the humans whereas only 19 percent of meetings and fill up a classroom of Republicans are likely to claim that about 65 seats. The meetings will human activity has had an impact. continue on Oct. 23, Nov. 6, 13, 20, The Los Angeles Times, and Dec. 4 in LB 222. however, no longer accepts letters from readers who deny human Agnessa Kasumyan can be reached at agnessakas@gmail.com impact on the environment,

Page 5 climate change  

Campus professors are aiming to learn more about the science of climate change to be better equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary...

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